JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. — Sandra Walker used respectful tones as she spoke, but there was frustration in her voice when she confronted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about sacrificing 11 days of pay because Congress and President Barack Obama cannot agree on taxes and spending.
Like hundreds of thousands of Pentagon civilian employees, she began a furlough this month that will keep her home without pay one day each week until Oct. 1.
The news from Hagel was grim.
“I’ve got to be honest with you,” he said, explaining that if the forced spending reductions are not lifted, the Pentagon will confront $52 billion in more cuts for 2014. “If we have to do that, we’ll probably be beyond furloughs. We’re going to have to eliminate some jobs.”
Over three days visiting military bases across the Southeast this week, Hagel told everyone that compromise in Washington was unlikely.
“There’s no good news,” he said in Charleston, S.C.
“Sequestration is a mindless, irresponsible process,” he said. “You know it, I know it. And I’m hoping that our leaders in Washington will eventually get that and come to some policy resolution. I used to be in that business. I’m not in that business anymore.”